UK: Best Practices For Election Of Members To International & Regional Treaty Bodies


This Report sets out a number of recommendations for UN treaty bodies to incorporate into their nomination and election procedures in order to improve diversity and in particular achieve gender balance among treaty body members.

Improving gender balance within UN treaty bodies is a common goal, promoted by UN regulations and guidelines, which has only been achieved by a few treaty bodies. Members of treaty bodies are still predominantly male and the mechanics for achieving gender balance through the treaty body nomination and election systems are not always clear. This Report draws from gender diversity policies and practices within the private sector where it is widely recognised that not only is it fair and right to reflect society's composition but also that companies with diverse boards that include a closer to equal or equal representation of women, perform better than companies with other less diverse boards.

In the private sector, notably in Europe, the UK and the US, companies have adopted and implemented policies and procedures which are designed to promote female leadership in particular and guarantee a diverse pool of candidates to be considered by shareholders when electing directors to company boards. Companies in some European countries have had to comply with diversity laws which impose a specified quota of women on boards. Many countries also have policies that include encouraging transparency in the election process, making managers responsible for diversity policies and enforcing shorter election terms and staggered boards.

The treaty body system can benefit from the steps taken towards achieving gender balance at the company board level in the private sector. The private sector model can be adapted to the treaty body context during both (i) the State parties' nomination processes and (ii) the treaty body's election process.


At the nomination stage, treaty bodies have the opportunity to propose guidelines for State parties to adopt when selecting candidates for nomination. State parties should select candidates with the relevant experience and expertise, but should also take gender diversity into consideration when selecting candidates for nomination. It is essential that, at the outset of the selection process, State parties are choosing from a diverse pool of candidates. In line with the 'comply or explain' procedure applied in the private sector, State parties who do not provide a diverse and gender-balanced candidate list and do not take into consideration guidelines and recommendations given by the treaty bodies in relation to gender diversity should be prepared to publicly state the basis for their decision, and how and why that decision led to a non-diverse outcome.

At the election stage, when reviewing the merits of each candidate, voting members of the treaty body should also bear in mind the desired objective, which is to reach a diverse and gender-balanced treaty body composition. As such, diversity and gender balance should be set as targets for treaty bodies to achieve by the next election cycle, and each treaty body without a written diversity mandate in its treaty should have a diversity policy in place by that time, which can be shared and implemented by member States.

Treaty bodies should also consider limiting the terms of service of elected members in order to ensure a regular renewal of members. The selection, nomination and election process should be formal, transparent and reported in order to ensure fairness and hold the State parties and electing treaty body members accountable for the reasons behind their candidate selection.

This Report provides a set of realistic and pragmatic recommendations for treaty bodies to consider when developing and improving their diversity policies. The recommendations aim to strengthen the treaty body system by ensuring the election of a diverse and gender-balanced group of experts.



This Report has been prepared for the purpose of examining best practices for nominating and selecting individuals across the world to international treaty bodies and private sector governing bodies, with a view to making recommendations which can usefully add to the discussion of strengthening the international treaty body system.

When selecting individuals to governing bodies and leadership positions, both in the private sector and in the international treaty body system, the objective is to select experienced candidates who will contribute to improving the decision-making capacity of the governing body. In her pivotal report on strengthening the international treaty body system, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navri Pillay, identified "[t]he nomination and election process" for treaty body experts as "a determining factor of paramount importance to the expertise and efficiency of each treaty body";1 'expertise' being a fundamental criterion.

Numerous reports, focusing in particular on the private sector, have established that selecting diverse candidates is a key criterion for governing bodies to ensure that they have the appropriate expertise; companies are more successful and efficient when the members of their boards are more diverse.2 A report developed by McKinsey & Company lists several reasons why more diverse governing bodies perform better, including improved customer orientation, employee satisfaction, better decision-making and innovation and better talent recruitment.3

The case for diversity, and particularly gender balance, is echoed within the treaty body system. Pillay's successor, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said that experts are "prerequisites" for the effectiveness of the treaty body system.4 Good quality experts are needed to fulfil treaty mandates in an evidence-based, efficient, effective, apolitical, and accountable way. This is why State parties must do their utmost to ensure that treaty body nomination processes are "fair, transparent, gender-balanced and competitive", and only elect "the most qualified and best suited candidates" to serve.5 The GQUAL campaign has even argued that State parties have a duty to act affirmatively to ensure gender parity.6


Drawing from best practices across the private sector as well as adding to and developing policies and rules already in place among the treaty bodies, the recommendations developed in this Report provide a basis from which treaty bodies can implement better diversity policies and frameworks and improve their nomination processes in order to strengthen the treaty body system by ensuring the election of a diverse group of experts. This Report recognises that not all practices in the private sector apply in the treaty body context. Therefore, to the extent the 'best practice' would not be applicable, we have excluded it from our recommendations.

When considering diversity, this Report adopts a point of view similar to that in the McKinsey report where diversity includes, among other criteria, inherent forms of diversity (gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity) and acquired forms of diversity (international work experience, education and training, socioeconomic background), as well as further forms of diversity such as age, religious beliefs, geography and skills.7 While this Report is based primarily on analyses which focus on gender balance, the recommendations proposed are intended to apply to a wider, more inclusive scope where diverse committees and diverse groups of elected experts include women and men with different experiences and from different backgrounds.


This Report is structured to best service the thesis that efforts to improve how individuals are nominated and elected to international treaty bodies on a diversity basis may draw useful lessons – where relevant – from best practices in the international public and private sectors for appointing individuals to governing bodies. SECTION III of this Report provides an overview of the current procedures for nominating and electing individuals to key international and regional treaty bodies and reviews the commentary on best practices in this area. SECTION IV then considers policies and regulations within the private sector in the United States of America, Europe and the Rest of the World, providing a list of recommendations and best practices encountered in each area. SECTION V provides a list of recommendations and explains the basis for arriving at each. SECTION VI is a tabular checklist of certain governance provisions as set out in the treaty texts of each of the treaty bodies examined.


In preparing this Report, the practices of the following treaty bodies were examined:

  • the Human Rights Committee, which monitors the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ("ICCPR");
  • the Committee which monitors the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women ("CEDAW");
  • the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, which monitors the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families ("CMW");
  • the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment ("SPT"), which monitors the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment ("OPCAT");
  • the International Criminal Court ("ICC") constituted under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; the International Criminal Court Assembly ("ICC Assembly") constituted under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;
  • the Committee against Torture ("CAT"), which monitors the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;
  • the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which monitors the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ("CRPD");
  • the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which monitors the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ("ICESCR");
  • Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights ("ECtHR"), which recommends candidates to the European Assembly for election;
  • the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, which monitors the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment ("ECPT");
  • the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, and African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights ("ACtHPR"), which together monitor the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights ("ACHPR");
  • the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination ("CERD"), which monitors the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination ("ICERD");
  • the Committee on the Rights of the Child, which monitors the Convention on the Rights of the Child ("CRC");
  • the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, which monitors the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance ("CED"); and
  • the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ("IACHR") and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ("IACtHR"), which together monitor the inter-American system for the protection of human rights.

 1 The authors would like to thank Camille Jetzer, Rosy Worsfold, Zahra Mashhood, Martyn Cukier, and Ryan Harvey for their research and assistance in preparing this Report.

To view the full article click here


1 Report by U.N. High Comm'r on Human Righs, United Nations Reform: Measures and Proposals, UN Doc. A/66/860, at 74 (June 26, 2012),

2 GQUAL, Achieving Gender Parity on International Judicial and Monitoring Bodies: Analysis of International Human Rights Laws and Standards Relevant to the GQUAL Campaign (IHLRC Working Paper Series No. 4, Oct. 2017); McKinsey & Co., Diversity Matters (2015),, (the "McKinsey report").

3 McKinsey report, supra note 3, at 9-14.

4 Office of U.N. High Comm'r for Human Rights, Handbook for Human Rights Treaty Body Members iii (2015),

5 Id.

6 GQUAL, supra note 3; GQUAL, Article 8 of the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women: A Stepping Stone in Ensuring Gender Parity in International Organisations and Tribunals (2015),

7 McKinsey report, supra note 3. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions